Eclipse darkened skies, then Skilling’s tears on WGN lit up Twitter

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Tom Skilling’s tears during Monday’s eclipse — the first one he’s covered — got a lot of people talking. | Screenshot of WGN video via Twitter

Skilling wept.

And he’s cool with that.

Chicago’s beloved weatherman Tom Skilling makes no apologies for crying on live television during the eclipse Monday.

“I’m afraid they just got raw me,” Skilling, WGN’s longtime meteorologist, said Tuesday morning while traveling back to Chicago from Southern Illinois.

“We live in such a phony world. I guess I kind of thought that folks would think this is one of those media types trying to hype the whole event and it wasn’t that at all,” he said.

“I was just overcome,” he said. “I’m kind of an emotional guy to begin with but I was kind of surprised how the moment grabbed me.”

He tried in vain to keep his emotions in check.

“When it’s happening you keep saying to yourself ‘Please don’t let this happen. Get this under control.'”

“But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a occasionally being overwhelmed by what you see around you. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.”

“There’s something liberating about being 65 years old. When you’re younger you might feel like you have to apologize. But this is who I am,” he said.

All the same, Skilling, an on-air veteran, is slightly embarrassed.

“I haven’t brought myself to watch it yet,” he said. “We just walked into a McDonald’s and I looked up and saw it on the ‘Today Show’ and I looked away from it.”

“I’m not used to putting my emotions out on such public display,” he said.

During the broadcast, Skilling had declared: “This is amazing. What do you think of this, guys?” as he started to hug people after seeing his first eclipse. “Look at this! Oh, my word!”

Skilling seemed to know he was going to have a hard time holding it together.

“We’ve been told some people start sobbing. For some, it’s just a life-changing event. And we may start doing that, too,” Skilling said on the air beforehand, already choking up. “I’ll get my act together guys. … Sorry about this.”

Skilling wasn’t alone. ABC7 Chicago’s Larry Mowry also was overcome by the moment:

TEARS OF JOY! @LarryABC7 brought to tears during #totalsolareclipse in Carbondale. ‘I’ve been dreaming of this for a very long time.’ — ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) August 21, 2017

Skilling finds himself scratching his head over the public’s endearing reaction.

The weepy footage is echoing around the Internet with headlines such as “This Weatherman’s Emotional Reaction to the Eclipse Will Brighten Your Day” and “This weatherman’s reaction to the solar eclipse is adorable.”

One young man Tweeted: “Find someone who loves you the way Tom Skilling loves total eclipses.”

Upon hearing the tweet, Skilling said: “People are wonderful, aren’t they? That’s really amazing.”

Skilling reported on the eclipse from a grassy campground surrounded by dozens of other sky watchers. The experience took on a communal feeling, he said, as folks began to hug, tear up, howl and gaze in silent introspection.

“In researching the eclipse, I read about people who collapsed to their knees and sobbed during eclipses,” he said.

“There is something about the whole experience that’s just, wow. This whole thing is a lot bigger than all of us. It’s a reminder of how small we are in the universe,” Skilling said.

TEARS OF JOY: Tom Skilling got a little emotional during his cover of the eclipse. We feel you, Tom. @Skilling #SolarEclipse2017 — WGN TV News (@WGNNews) August 21, 2017

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